Diverse and abundant lipid biomarker assemblages have been reported
from a variety of Proterozoic marine environments from the careful
analysis of well-preserved rocks and oils. These molecular
biosignatures have provided unique insights into the communities
and the environmental conditions which characterized the
Proterozoic marine biosphere. We summarize some of the major
temporal patterns evident in Proterozoic lipid biomarkers found to
date, whilst emphasizing the scale of local heterogeneity found
within Neoproterozoic oceans from region to region, and their
relationship with the evolving ecological, climatic and
ocean/atmospheric redox conditions. Short commentaries on a
selection of papers published from the last 15 years of biomarker
literature are given. The focus here is on key studies, highlighted
for further reading, which have helped to better constrain the
timing of the ecological expansion of eukaryotes in Proterozoic
oceans or which have impacted on our knowledge of the biological
sources of Proterozoic biomarkers.
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